Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: Flying Karamazov Brothers

I'm a little relucatnt to say too much about the Flying Karamazov Brothers to those who haven't seen them. A lot of the fun in watching these four men perform is the surprise that comes from seeing something so totally unexpected and hard-to-describe.

To say that the Flying Karamazov Brothers is a juggling show falls far short of the mark. You can say, with some accuracy, that it's a juggling-comedy-improv-singing-dancing show, but you're still going to leave people asking: C'mon, really, what is it?

So the best thing to do is just go see them for yourself.

My family and I did just that, seeing the Karamazov Brothers on Saturday at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach, Calif., and it was just as funny and entertaining as when I saw them 30 years ago.  Yes, THIRTY years they've been going that long, with some personnel changes.

My favorite part of the show was "The Gamble," where one of their members claims to be able to juggle any three audience-provided items ("heavier than an ounce, lighter than 10 pounds, and smaller than a breadbox" ).

Audience members came prepared, and among the items that were delivered to the stage were a small skateboard, a wad of tape, and some cooked ribs (at least I think they were cooked). But those weren't the best: The audience ended up choosing (by applause) a cake, a balloon covered in marshmallow frosting, and a frisbee with root beer cans attached, which its creator had labeled "The Champ Defeatinator."

In the end, this crazy collection of items did defeat "The Champ" and he got a pie in the face.  But it wasn't the result that mattered as much as the chaotic and hilarious improv along the way.

Thirty years ago, I remember the Karamazov Brothers juggling running chain saws (OK, "juggling" isn't exactly accurate they tossed them from one to another). They didn't do that this time. Rather, they made creative use of the humble cardboard box to make music and mock Lady Gaga. And of course they showed off their juggling skills.

Parents will appreciate that the show is appropriate for kids, yet entertaining for all ages. 

I can't wait to see what the Karamazov Brothers do when I seen them in 2041.


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